Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Names



by Casey Peterson (bio)

Image via boocal.

When recently I was changed from “guest” to “contributor” status on MMM, I was asked to provide a moniker. This has always been a challenge for me, and cause for deep reflection of the power and purpose of a name.

The historical instances of changing names is quite interesting. From the aspiring musician Gordon Sumner, who because of his propensity to wear black and yellow attire was given the moniker of Sting. To the young USC football player from Iowa named Marion Morrison, who was asked to take on a more manly name, John Wayne. Few of us readily recognize Norma Jean Mortenson (Marilyn Monroe), or Samuel L. Clements (Mark Twain). Yet in the technology world of today, many of us have monikers or aliases, but do we really know the reasons?

Origins of names can come from a variety of sources. Gratefully, not all parents take the approach of Ron Howard, naming children based on the location of conception. My name comes from an interesting mix of factors, I am told. The cowboy component coming from the great saddle bronco rider Casey Tibbs. The courage of Casey Jones, the train engineer who gave his life for his job (and was named after his birthplace, Cayce, Kentucky). And the athletic reference and cool charisma to the pre-strike out form of Casey at the bat.

Each spring after all of the calves and lambs are born, my kids join me for the annual branding. The scene takes place across ranches throughout the west, just has it has for hundreds of years. Supposedly this dates back to the Spanish conquistadores who marked their animals with three crosses for identification purposes. It’s not a pleasant sight, or smell, as the branding iron is heated and our HP brand is seared on the left hip of the calves for permanent identification.

No, we don’t have a sponsorship with Hewlett Packard. Our brand goes back to Hans Peterson, a convert to the LDS church from Vile, Fyuen, Denmark. He was called to settle the town of Fillmore, Utah and worked hard to support his family on 50 acres of land, a molasses mill, and occasional work as a tinsmith and clothing tailor. I like to think that he left a legacy of faith, hard work, eating, technical skill, and nice clothing for future Petersons. He also was on the city council, the school board, the city recorder, and the town violinist. I am proud of the example, heritage, and Peterson name that he passed to me. And it seems fitting each year that I put his initials on the cows that I am using as a tool to build the same principles of faith and work in my children.

My kids spend time each day feeding and caring for their animals. They seldom ask for money to pay for their needs. From the sale of their animals, they each have bank accounts and investments. They also have meals that come from organic meats that they raised, eggs that they gather, and produce that they grow in our garden and orchard. Fixing fence, digging thistles, and moving animals (which can include watching me get bucked off horses) can be hard work. At least I hope it’s hard work. It has successfully stunted their interest in video games, TV, and other common activities. However, I’m not trying to revert them to the 1800’s agrarian lifestyle in Fillmore. I recognize the same qualities required of Hans Peterson are required of them today, and I hope they feel a connection to those principles that are inherent in their names. I also hope that I leave a legacy with my name that can span generations, distances, and societal changes. Each of our names has a meaning, do we appreciate it?

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